Gregory DeMattia, chief of homicide for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, said investigators searched for Rodolfo Godinez, a Nicaraguan national, and two juvenile suspects. [...]
Godinez, a Nicaraguan national, appears to have avoided deportation despite a growing rap sheet. He obtained a green card in 2001, according to Marc Raimondi, spokesman for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
By that time, Godinez had already been arrested for robbery in 1999 in South Orange for robbery. The charge was downgraded to theft and he was sentenced to 18 months probation.
In September 2002, he was arrested in Irvington for aggravated assault, robbery and weapons possession. It is unclear what the outcome of those charges were.
In April 2003, he was arrested for robbery in Newark. The charge was downgraded to theft and he was sentenced to 18 months probation, Essex County records show.
Under immigration laws passed in 1996, legal permanent residents can be deported if they are convicted of felonies, or “crimes of moral turpitude.” The phrase is considered vague and open to interpretation of immigration judges.
In most cases, a deportable offense is one in which the person is sentenced to a year or more in prison. Exceptions are made for juvenile offenses.
Because Godinez pleaded to lesser offenses and avoided lengthy jail sentence, he would likely have been able to avoid deportation, according to a law enforcement source.
To put things in perspective, Martha Stewart and Paris Hilton have served more time than Godinez.